Sunday, June 5, 2011

Relief of Primordial Switzerland, Franz Ludwig Pfyffer

Relief of Primordial Switzerland, Franz Ludwig Pfyffer

 Site Model Making


Fig. 7.22: “Relief of Pri­mordial Switzerland” was finished by Franz Ludwig Pfyffer in 1786, and is found today in the Gletschergarten Lucerne.

Site Model Making


Between 1762 and 1786, Franz Ludwig Pfyffer built a scale model en­titled “Relief of Primordial Switzerland’ This was the first three-dimen­sional landscape model that topographically represented a specific area. The alpine region around Lucerne with Lake Lucerne and the neighboring Cantons is replicated at a scale of 1:12,500, with light vertical exaggeration and great detail. Shortly after its completion, the 26 m2 model became a popular attraction in Lucerne. Discerning travelers such as Johann Wolf­gang von Goethe were delighted to be able to look at the mountains from above. Hot air balloons and alpine tourism were still unknown at this time. One can imagine the fascination that this model landscape exerted on viewers: until then, the landscape had only been seen from the perspec­tive of a foot traveler, or from a carriage. And as such, only as segments, which were often rather threatening or tiresome to the traveler. Pieces of wood, coal, brick, plaster and sand, covered with a painted layer of bees­wax were the materials used to create this first landscape model.

Digital Model Making

Today, specialist computer programs and plotters have taken over the role of making landscape models, naturally using digital models as in­put data. Contour lines must be closed and each have its own layer for a specialist CAD/CAM system to be able to import DXF or DWG format.[1]


[1] Peter Petschek, Peter Walker, Grading for Landscape Architects and Architects, (Birkhauser Verlag AG 2008) 125.

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